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Taking a global view of business

Photo by Christopher Huang.

Alvaro Cuervo-Cazurra says that businesses must expand their operations beyond their borders to survive—especially in a world in which the communication and transportation sectors are growing like never before.

“Maybe it was great at one time to only focus domestically, but for many companies it’s no longer an option,” says Cuervo-Cazurra, a newly appointed associate professor of international business and strategy in Northeastern’s College of Business Administration.

“Whether you like it or not,” he says, “your competitors may come into your market and increase competition, and if you’re not as good as they are you might disappear.”

Cuervo-Cazurra’s research focuses on how firms in emerging markets can succeed by expanding into other countries. He recently returned from Brazil, where he gave companies in the food and beverage industry advice on improving their internationalization strategies, which can include repackaging products to rebrand them for global markets.

Internationalizing, Cuervo-Cazurra says, gives firms valuable insight into new cultures, consumer bases and distribution methods, which often helps them improve their products at home—even if foreign expansion fails.

But businesses in emerging markets that seek to expand globally face a unique set of challenges. As Cuervo-Cazurra puts it, “Multinationals in the developed countries such as the United States must deal with coordinating existing operations. Yet problems are larger for those in developing countries, including how companies focused on the domestic market move into the international arena, and how they deal with the poor image” that their country might have overseas.

Prior to joining the Northeastern faculty, Cuervo-Cazurra served as an associate professor of international business at the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina. He earned two PhDs, from the School of Economics and Management Sciences at the University of Salamanca in 1997, and from the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1999.

Cuervo-Cazurra, whose scholarship aligns with the College of Business Administration’s emphasis on global research, plans to collaborate with faculty in criminology and law on his research into corruption in international business.

He was drawn to the Northeastern for many reasons, including the University’s Center for Emerging Markets, commitment to sustainability and signature co-op program.

A native of Spain, Cuervo-Cazurra was urged by his advisor at the University of Salamanca to study in another country. He says Northeastern’s emphasis on international experiential learning opportunities is special.

“There’s something unique here,” he says.